Esqueleto Explosivo 2 (Thunderkick): Overview
It is hard to believe, but it has been five years since Thunderkick released the first Esqueleto Explosivo slot. Based around Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, it went on to be an extremely popular release for Thunderkick. This Mexican festival takes place over several days in November and lets people commemorate family members and friends who have passed away. In Mexico, this is a celebration rather than a sad experience. Instead of seeing death as an ending, it is perceived as a natural part of the spiritual journey. Either way, players and fans of the original have the sequel to do it all over again. The first was a smash hit which always makes a sequel a tough following act. How does it measure up?
At first, things don’t look all that different. You won’t get confused over which version you are playing though. If it doesn’t say ‘Esqueleto Explosivo 2’ along the top of the reels, then you are on part one. The key elements are back, but Thunderkick has made a few tweaks to the game engine that make the sequel a completely different beast altogether. The setup remains the same with 5 reels and 3 rows along with the Mucho Multiplier camped out down below. One of the most significant changes is that the win ways have been expanded from 17 to 99 paylines. How it works is that winning combos form from 3-5 symbols touching diagonally or horizontally on adjacent reels from the first onwards.
The light-hearted spirit of the original is also back with the cheering, singing, and the guitars. To get in on the festive atmosphere, players choose wagers from 10 p/c to £/€100 per spin, manual or auto. Thunderkick is clearly going for a different gambling crowd this time around. They have taken the low volatility of the original and cranked it up to a high setting. Even the RTP has been increased (slightly) to 96.13%. Along with a respectable potential, players get to experience a far more intense Day of the Dead celebration this time around.
The symbols in part 2 are for the most part the same as the original, with one or two new faces. The skull symbols drop down onto the musician bodies as before, and include a cyan, orange, blue, green, and pink skull. The purple lady skull is new and is the most valuable at 5 times the stake. Not a huge figure, but the Gonzo style mechanics helps improve things, as do the extras.
Esqueleto Explosivo 2 (Thunderkick): Features
The great thing about the features is that Thunderkick has kept all of the good bits of the original, but made a couple of game-changing additions. The Dropping Symbols game mechanic is back. This is a cascade wins system that explodes winning symbols from the reels to let new ones in to cause chains of winners. Payout values are boosted by the Mucho Multiplier that starts at x1 and doubles with each win on a symbol drop like so – x1, x2, x4, x8, x16, with x32 being the maximum during the base game.
The Mucho Multiplier also increases whenever the Explosivo Wild appears. The wild lands on reels 2, 3, and 4, and substitutes for all symbols except the scatter. It also explodes and destroys 3 – 8 symbols in its area. The exceptions being scatters and the high pay symbol.
Fans will be thrilled to see the addition of a Free Spins round that was sorely missing from the original. The purple wind up skull icon is the scatter. Landing 3, 4, or 5 during the base game result in 10, 12, or 14 free spins, respectively. Scatters continue to appear during free spins and 2, 3, 4, and 5 awards an additional 3, 7, 10, and 12 free spins. Also, any additional scatter over 5 adds 2 more free spins to the total.
During free spins, a couple of clever elements are added. One is the collection of wilds. Every third Explosivo Wild that is collected adds an extra spin, but more importantly, it removes the lowest multiplier from the Mucho Multiplier. So the first set of 3 removes the x1, the second set the x2, and so one. In the bonus game, a x64 is also added to the meter, but only comes into play when the x32 becomes the base multiplier.
Esqueleto Explosivo 2 (Thunderkick): Verdict
Esqueleto Explosivo 2 is a marked improvement on the original and will appeal to a completely different type of gambler. Gone are the small and steady wins of a jolly wee low variance slot. Thunderkick has taken virtually every aspect of the first one and maxed the settings. RTP is up and volatility is now on the other end of the scale completely. Potential is certainly a lot more attractive too with payouts of up to 5,000 times the stake compared to 700x from the first one.
The features are much more appealing with the sequel as well. Thunderkick has done a commendable job of keeping the spirit of the first Esqueleto Explosivo alive while adding more of what players want. That is, bigger multipliers and the inclusion of a round of free spins. The bonus game is a good one too. To start with, a fair number of free spins are up for grabs, and on a good roll it is capable of serving up solid multipliers.
As you can imagine with all of these changes, you can’t expect a smooth ride with this younger sibling. The singing Mariachis might still be with us, but it is all about business this time. Ain’t no time to make friends at this Dia de Muertos, its spin and hope for the best. With rousing features, a ramped up game engine, and respectable potential, there is a lot to like about this juiced up sequel.